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Hybrid Freeview (TV)/Broadband STBs To Dominate
By: MarkJ - 01 August, 2007 (8:27 AM)

Screendigest has predicted that hybrid Freeview (digital terrestrial TV) and broadband set-top-boxes are emerging as the route to market for online video services. The research outlines several related services as examples:

FilmOn (www.filmon.com)
Currently in beta, the FilmOn consumer movie download service is due to launch September 2007 supported by FilmOn-branded hybrid Freeview/broadband set-top boxes scheduled to be available in retail channels from 14 October 2007 for 199. The boxes are to be supplied by French firm Netgem and are similar to the badged Netgem model already sold in the UK for a couple of years by Evesham Technologies under the 'iPlayer' name. Initial model has 80Gb hard disk for storing downloads and providing PVR functionality and will come pre-loaded with 10-20 films. A follow-up model, due Q1 2008, will have integrated DVD burner to allow a download-and-burn model.

The main content thrust of FilmOn proposition is independent studio fare and company claims to have signed rights to 4,000 movies and documentaries, plus another 7,000 'soft adult' titles. The proposition to content owners is that they should set their own retail/rental prices and take all the profits over the costs/transaction fees levied. 111pix quotes download delivery cost of $0.90 per movie (1.5Gb) and charges another $0.70 per transaction plus 7% transaction fee for the DRM.

Play TV/Global Digital Broadcast (www.globaldigitalbroadcast.com)
Another ambitious venture utilising a Freeview/broadband box is planning a 2007 launch under the Play TV UK brand. [THEY CLAIM] to have already signed up 110,000 UK customers for a minimum package 10 per month service after just 11 days of offering it. GDB has ordered 500,000 HD-capable 80Gb PVR boxes from manufacturer CIMA Technology based on chipsets from Broadcom and HD and upscaling technology from GDB sister firm VeHDa. The initial 110,000 boxes represent a 4m investment, implying a cost per box of just over 36.

The in-house developed EPG will be pre-programmed to receive a claimed 700 channels from 84 countries all delivered over the open Internet.

Simply Global TV (www.simplyglobal.tv)
A third hybrid Freeview/broadband video service provides packages of ethnic channels targeted at expatriate groups in the UK. Simply TV, chaired by professional investor Mike Luckwell, is offering open Internet TV channel packages from Bangladesh, Russia, Turkey, Jamaica, Pakistan, Romania, Brazil and Nigeria to subscribers who sign up for a one-year 10/month package. They must buy a Freeview/broadband box for 99, supplied by Complete Media Systems (www.completetv.com). Like the other services profiled, the box has two Freeview tuners and an 80Gb hard disk for PVR functionality.

It's prudent to mention that the listed services aren't the only ones on the way or already in existence, with BT Vision being among the more prominent contenders and not forgetting Tiscali's HomeChoice based product.

So far such systems appear to have had difficult escaping from the niche market, with BT Vision's level of impact believed to be minor. Established services from Sky and Virgin Media continue to hold the bulk of popularity and unseating that dominance will be difficult.

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